Friday photo – simple things

A lovely student arrived back from the coffee shop with a wonderful black americano for me in this cup.

Enjoying the simple things, noticing, naming and acknowledging them is a way of focusing on gratitude and punctuating the day with what brings you life.

For me they are things like the first hour of the day when I ground myself with spiritual practices and set up the day. Another is my first cup of coffee. Watching the birds on our feeders is such a joy. A daily walk is another simple thing I enjoy. My lunchtime bowl of home made soup is a simple meal but feels so nourishing.

What are the simple things which you enjoy?

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Friday photo – dawn breaking

Dawn is breaking as I write. This picture is dawn on the last day of our holiday. A clearing sky, a star shining brightly.

The light this morning is that the constituency where I live has elected Birmingham’s first black MP, a woman, Paulette Hamilton, that is something to celebrate.

But so much more is darkness hearing of a fire at a nuclear power station in Ukraine and many more horrors. I continue to pray, to give but hope is a tiny flicker, not a bright light.

I am also aware of the immense privilege of dawn breaking on a day off where I am choosing where to go to plan some writing and do some reading. So there are shards of joy as I anticipate that.

What does dawn bring for you today? How are you preparing for the day ahead? I am sitting, praying, reflecting, reading, journaling, finding equilibrium for the day ahead.

Wondering Wednesdays – biophilia

Child playing in the snow with a leaf

I came across a fascinating article about words which had fallen out of fashion. Biophilia – love of life was one of them. This is what the author wrote:

this word is probably best known as the title of Icelandic singer Bjork’s seventh studio album. Biophilia and its counterpart necrophilia were coined in the 19th century as technical terms in psychology… Biophilia…has remained fairly restricted to technical discussions in psychoanalysis. Nonetheless, its literal meaning – the love of life – suggests a broader human need or desire to connect with nature and living things.

I was talking to someone the other day about how I default too often to particular words and have a thesaurus at hand for when I want to find a better word. I feel blessed to be loving life at the moment for all sorts of reasons and it is good to have a word to describe it. For me joy is the emotion I most experience in relation to biophilia and find myself smiling, home alone, doing all sorts of things. Life has not always been like this, there have been many difficult challenges over the years where it has felt much more like I was plodding through life like walking into a very strong wind. But I remain grateful through each season of life as there is always something I can express gratitude for even in the midst of lament for other things. Birthday week has been a particular time of biophilia this year.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/five-life-affirming-words-we-should-bring-back-into-use?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB link to the full article if you want to discover some other words to reclaim! Picture one used in article and used it here as so evocative – credit Kobby Mendez | Unsplash

Wondering Wednesdays- adding play time

It was so joyful watching these birds splashing in the rock pool, it looked so much fun!

I am exploring habits to get into this new year and playing more is one of them. I want the creativity, joy and freedom that comes with play.

Healthy rhythms are important to me, particularly when I find myself slipping into unhealthy ones at times and when something becomes a habit it is more rooted in my life and more likely to stick.

#rhythm #habit

Friday photo – breaking the ice

This was me out playing last Saturday, breaking the ice in puddles as we walked in the park. I didn’t quite have the abandon to jump in the puddles like I see small children do and the delight on my face was probably a little more masked than theirs would be.

It was much safer for me breaking the ice than walking on ice, much less danger of slipping and falling – something that is not wise at my age!

Saturdays are my day off, my play day, and I think I need to learn to play a little more, to recover some of the childlike fun that I remember from long ago. We never grow out of playing, but sometimes we don’t let ourselves live and enjoy the moment as we might. On my next walk I will look at how I might play a little more and experience that joy again.

#play #joy

Wondering Wednesdays – empty spaces, head full of memories

On Saturday I said a final farewell to the space I had inhabited for 22 years in my role as Director of Midlands CYM. It was a strange and sad day and it is important for me to mourn and grieve what has been lost.

As I walked round empty rooms remembering conversations, worship, teaching, presiding… so many memories came flooding back. Memories of people, of stories, of grace, of overcoming, of flourishing, of struggling, of becoming.

However, the head full of memories also fills me with gratitude and joy and what is not lost is an investment in many people over many years by so many staff and students. We learn together, from each other and I always feel I gain at least as much as I give in any learning situation.

Thus it really is the end of an era as the building passes to new hands this week. But the legacy continues across the world of people sent out to pursue and fulfil their vocation in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday photo – soothing North Shore

Not a person in sight, a vast expanse of sand, of sea. Waves rhythmically crashing. The silvery sea disappearing into the horizon. Birds chase each other, loop round, swoop down. I sit alone with my feelings. Unexpectedly a little bubbling joy…

Friday photo – after the waiting

I spent a couple of days in the autumn planting bulbs for Mum in her many pots. These flowers are some of the fruit of that work. Each time I have visited Mum I have looked for signs of life and got a little worried when some started to emerge through the grit really early but the snow never came and they continues to grow. The way the house is designed you can only see the pots when standing at the kitchen sink but by bringing them in you can see them each time you walk into the kitchen. They bring a glimpse of beauty and joy. Now we are in lock down I don’t know what I will miss in those cute little vases and the myriad of pots.

I have been reading many different things designed to help me cope better with lock down and virus threat. What is grounding me are the little things, shared morning and evening prayer, some unexpected encouragements, some little windows of time amidst lots of work adjustments for acts of kindness and taking up knitting again as a conscious choice to make something rather than just consume things. I have no idea what life will be like after the waiting, I am hoping there will be a difference personally, culturally and structurally. I don’t find waiting easy and patience is one of the fruits of the spirit I most often need.

Wondering Wednesdays – why I love Club biscuits

My first ever job was in an office, I spent a year working for an insurance company after A levels as I decided what to do. Back in the day a wonderful woman came round with a refreshment trolley in the morning. It was the highlight of my day and I had to decide whether or not I was going to buy a Club biscuit to go with my tea and if so which one. When I see Clubs on sale a wave of nostalgia comes over me and I recall the joy of the tea break!

I am now trying to work out how to ensure I have moments of joy throughout the day that are not necessarily biscuit related all the time as I work from home everyday in lock down. What was an occasional treat is now an enforced activity. Yesterday I did my one walk straight after breakfast as there are less people around but then spent the rest of the day looking longingly at the sunshine. I am trying to build a routine that includes keeping up to date with my regular work but also taking the opportunity to catch up with things that are important but rarely urgent enough to get done. This means I will do more writing, both academic and more general and will schedule in reading time. Some of these things will bring moments of joy as will seeing the birds in the garden and odd connections with friends and family.

I am not finding lock down easy to begin with, a lack of autonomy and control over some of the big aspects of my life is challenging to me and I miss some of the elements of life that I find life giving like Saturday breakfast out with Paul. While I know this is trivial in the scheme of things I need to be real with myself about how I am feeling and not suppress it or move to excessive comfort eating which is always a danger. I am also aware that I am very privileged, I can work from home, I will still be paid and I enjoy my job, I am mindful that there are so many that is not true for and that is one of the hardest things at this time, the devastation in all sorts of situations. Yesterday’s Psalm for morning prayer was 46, one I have used many times over recent years when times are tough – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble… I am grateful for the times in the day which are punctuated with prayer with different communities, that brings me joy and helps sustain me.

Wondering Wednesdays – pains and joys of ministry

On Sunday Paul shared some of our inspirations, one was Joyce Rupp, she often writes in ways that articulate things I find hard to express so eloquently. These are parts of two reflections on the pains and joys of ministry for Jesus

Jesus, mentor of my life, because you were fully human, you would have experienced many ups and downs in your work. Remind me on my difficult days, when I am involved with my work and bearing its pains, that you also had your share of these moments and moods. Help me to look deeper and to discover meaning and blessing in the journey of love and discipleship, even when there are trials and travails to bear.

Jesus, help me to enter into the joyful dimensions of my work. Let me not be so involved and serious about my work that I miss the many pleasures and joys that are inherent in it. Lighten me up when I am feeling my work’s heaviness. May I remember that I need balance in my life, that laughter and leisure are essential for my total health. Take me to sources of zest and enthusiasm without guilt or hesitation. May my work become one of the playgrounds of my life.

Joyce Rupp Out of the ordinary Ave Maria Press 1999 pp144-7